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Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth

How to Make Eating Easier With Dry Mouth

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Updated April 16, 2014

Dry mouth is a common side effect of radiation therapy that affects cancer patients who have undergone treatment to the head and neck region. It is caused by damage to the salivary glands when they are exposed to radiation. When someone has dry mouth, eating can be a challenge, resulting in difficulty with chewing and swallowing, as there is little or no saliva to help break down the food. Mouth sores and infections can also develop, contributing to eating problems. Even speaking can be difficult for dry mouth sufferers.

Some foods are easier to eat than others. For many, learning which foods can be tolerated is through trial and error. However, there are some foods that people with dry mouth should avoid for several different reasons.

Foods to Avoid

Crusty Breads: Crusty breads can be difficult to chew and swallow. They can also irritate the inside of the mouth. If you like to eat bread, choose a softer variety. You may also try dipping bread in sauces or gravies. Basic Recipe for White Bread Acidic Foods: Foods with acidic ingredients like lemon and vinegar can definitely irritate the inside of the mouth, especially if you have mouth sores.

Salty Foods: Like acidic foods, salty foods can irritate the inside of the mouth.

Spicy Foods: Without saliva to protect the mucosa (the lining of inside of the mouth, spicy foods can be especially irritating.

Sugary Foods and Drinks: Saliva serves many purposes in digestion and one of them is to breakdown the sugars in food. One of the reasons why people suffering from dry mouth are at an increased risk of developing dental problems like decay and infections is because sugars aren't properly being properly broken down. Due to the increased risk, it's best to avoid foods and drinks that contain sugar. How to Choose a Dentist

Dry Foods: Dry foods likes crackers, toasted breads, and chips can be extremely difficult to swallow if you have dry mouth. These types of foods depend on saliva to become soft for easier chewing and swallowing. Dry foods with sharp edges like crackers and tortilla chips and can also irritate the inside of your mouth. You can dip crackers and toasted breads in dips and sauces to make swallowing easier, but it may not not work for everyone. Some find success in dipping crackers in water or milk before eating.

Tough Meats Meats can be especially challenging to eat for dry mouth sufferers. It is best to avoid tough meats altogether, but softer meats can be tolerated by many with a little modification. Try adding sauces and gravies to meats to help effectively chew and swallow. Remember to frequently take sips during meals -- it can help with swallowing and to also keep the mouth wet during meals. Gravy and Sauce Recipes

Combating Dry Mouth Takes Effort, But Can Be Controlled

Chronic dry mouth can be frustrating, especially for long term sufferers. Eating can become such a challenge and chore that some people begin to eat less, compromising their nutritional health. It doesn't have to be this way, though. Dry mouth can be managed a number of ways, with both pharmaceutical and OTC remedies being available. Some patients find additional relief by adding a cool mist humidifier to their bedroom while they sleep and learning how to breathe through their noses instead of mouths. There are many different ways to help combat dry mouth caused by radiation therapy. Learn what you can do to combat dry mouth.
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